Many years ago I relinquished my baby for adoption. This news story brought my choices (or lack of them) to mind.
A secret pregnancy in a Catholic town
It was 1970. I’d recently graduated from a Catholic high school in my home town–a town so Catholic there was no public high school or public grade school there. Underneath my cap and gown was a well kept secret. So well kept that no one knew that I was pregnant until later that summer–six weeks before the baby was born. I confided in my mother. We told my father and my boyfriend (the father of the baby) and not another soul.
I was fairly certain than I was damned. Yet when it came time to sign the adoption papers, I specified that I wanted my son to be adopted by a Catholic family.
A year or so afterwards I viewed my wishes for a Catholic boyhood for my son as evidence of a sort of Stockholm syndrome. I was a captive of Catholicism, hobbled by the constrained morality of my town and my church. So hobbled that I could not endure the shame and scandal of raising my son myself. Yet I handed him over to be indoctrinated with the same narrow-mindedness.
While it’s true that my son was adopted into a good and loving home, religion is no guarantee of that. And while there’s a bit more leeway in the Catholic Church these days, it seems that there won’t be enough for the mother of the child in the article linked to above. If she is identified, she will be lucky not to be charged with a crime. A church is not considered a safe place to leave an infant, according to the Minnesota Safe Haven Law. And thus, the woman has committed a crime.
What do we wish (pray) for?
Certainly I have the same wish that most readers of the story will have. I wish for the baby to be loved, to be safe, to be given the opportunities in life that everyone deserves. But I also think of the woman who felt so trapped by her circumstances, that she (or someone she had implored to help her) had to climb the Cathedral steps that winter night with the almost insurmountable task of leaving that baby behind. Picture that.
I also wish that the priest had spoken up for the mother. That he’d beseeched those hearing of the story to put themselves in the mother’s shoes. That he’d discussed how the Church has failed women and children like these over the decades. And how about pointing out that the Church has wrongly encouraged the throwing of stones at women in circumstances like hers. I wish he’d put out a plea for the mother to contact him. And when she did, he’d offered her support to help her raise her son.